SEAT's performance brand kicks off its range with new sporty Ateca

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SPANISH auto maker SEAT is creating a new high performance Cupra division with its first offering being an uprated version of the Ateca SUV.

Seat yesterday announced the launch of the new sub-brand Cupra, which aims to form itself a new sporty identity.

The engine is the same 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 found in the Volkswagen Golf R and Audi S3, and just like in those cars the engine is paired up with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel-drive system.

The key stats you were no doubt waiting for: the Cupra Ateca has a top speed of 152mph and manages the 0-62mph run in 5.4 seconds.

The engine's mated to a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox, which Cupra says has been engineered to offer quicker and smoother changes.

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The Ateca's software has also been uprated to include a Cupra setting in its drive modes. No technical details have been advanced, but Cupra did say it has also reworked the all-new Arona subcompact crossover, most likely carrying just about the same design cues and technical specifications as the former, since both are nearly identical.

On the outside, the regular Ateca has been given a mild reworking to give a sportier look, with a new body kit, black brake callipers, quad-exit exhaust and 19-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels. Alcantara trim, aluminium pedals and gloss black highlights are part of the interior finish as are illuminated sill plates. A light in the door shines the new Cupra logo and name on to the floor when you unlock the vehicle - helpful to remind you what you're driving.

"Our ambition for the CUPRA brand is to double the sales within the next four to five years", said SEAT Vice-President for Sales and Marketing Wayne Griffiths. "It is the best example of balance between sportsmanship, fun at the wheel and ease of use in everyday life". At the Ateca's launch in Barcelona, it revealed that it was working on hot versions of the Cupra hatchback and estate, and was taking over the Cupra TCR racing programme.

In many ways, the estate shares a lot in common with the limited-number Leon Cupra R hatchback that made its debut previous year.